• Published 11th Mar 2019
  • 984 Views, 80 Comments

The Pegasus who Kicked the Changelings' Hive - A M Shark

After being injured during the events of "The Ponies who Played with Fire" a now-captive Discord is facing trial for murder, while Fluttershy and her small band of allies are in a desperate struggle both to clear his name and avoid their own capture.

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Chapter 1. Isaiah 65:24

Author's Note:

For those of you not familiar with this series, you'll definitely want to read my earlier stories: The Draconequus with the Dragon Tattoo (aka Book 1) and The Ponies who Played with Fire (aka Book 2) before starting this one or you won't understand what's going on.

As always, a huge thank you to Nightwalker for his suggestions and editing.

Chapter 1

"Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear."—Isaiah 65:24

The guards bearing the injured draconequus had only moved the bound-together stretchers about a dozen yards down the mountain path when their passenger's tail suddenly snapped up in the air. It lashed first one way, then the other, catching the ponies near it off-guard and knocking them off their hooves. Several of the unicorns and earth ponies tumbled dangerously close to the cliff's edge and might have fallen to the ground far below if their pegasi squadmates hadn't swooped down to catch them. With no ponies now supporting the last stretcher—the one Discord's legs and tail were strapped to—it crashed to the ground only to rise back up and slam down a second time as the draconequus continued to thrash about. The straps on his wrists, neck, and chest held fast, but he arched his lower body upward, and in the process his legs suddenly slipped free of the restraints holding them! A split-second later his tail drew backward out of its strap as well! The ponies around him all cried out in alarm, and began ducking and dodging to avoid being struck as the draconequus flailed his whole lower body about in every direction.

In the confusion, Fluttershy tried to run forward to Discord's side. She wasn't really sure what she hoped to accomplish by reaching him, but the sight of him struggling like that sparked an instinctive desire to try and soothe him. But as she tried to lunge forward Skywishes held her fast.

"Fluttershy!" the coral-colored pegasus whisper-shouted in her ear. "You can't go down there! We don't know if any of those ponies are disguised changelings or—Ow!"

Mache Max had just jabbed Skywishes right between the eyes with one of his paper wings, startling her into losing her grip on the other pegasus. Fluttershy lunged forward again, but this time Twilight and Spike both caught a hold of her and held her as firmly as Skywishes had.

"She's right, Fluttershy!" said Twilight, using the same whisper-shout Skywishes had. "Back at Canterlot, Spike and I were already attacked by two changelings disguised as guards!"

Though Fluttershy's ears heard Twilight's words, her body continued to struggle against the hooves and claws holding her. She let out a soft plaintive wail as she strained toward her former partner all while he snapped his long body about like a bullwhip, and he lunged against the bonds on his wrists, neck, and chest. Through the blood-stained scarf still bound around his head, Fluttershy saw that his eyes were open, but she couldn't tell if he was aware of his surroundings.

Discord heard indistinct voices all around him, and his eyes registered blurred shadows and shapes, but his aching head couldn't seem to comprehend anything his still scattered senses were telling him.

The only thing he could remember clearly after pleading in his mind for Fluttershy to forgive him, was hearing her sob that he was hurting her. He had reached out then, hoping against hope that his attempt to wake her and free her from that "protective" force field he had trapped her in had somehow worked. All he could remember after that was feeling her coat under his fingers, sliding them up into her mane, thinking he saw the hazy form of her face above him, and trying to draw her closer to him.

I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Fluttershy, I'm sorry! he had sobbed inside his head. He wasn't sure if he was just imagining her there, but even if she was just a piece of his imagination, he didn't want his apology to go unspoken. He had tried to get the words out, but his mouth seemed to have difficulty forming them.

Then somewhere along the way, everything had swiftly faded to black.

That is ... until now.

Now as he struggled both with the physical bonds securing his body, and the strange wall that seemed to have come between him and his magic, all he could think about was his desperation to find Fluttershy. To make sure she was all right. That he hadn't just imagined her in front of him earlier. Let her be all right! Let me see her again! Just let me see her!

As the draconequus continued to thrash about, the Royal Sisters circled above the confusion.

"Get him secured and sedated!" Celestia called down to the ponies. "Then take him to the hospital and await my orders there!"

Hospital?! As several ponies responded to the command with 'yes, your majesty'-s, Fluttershy's gaze jerked off Discord to stare up at the circling sun princess, a tiny flicker of hope sparking in her heart. Does this mean you actually listened when I said Discord was innocent? Does this mean that when you brushed me off earlier it was just because you were in a hurry to get Discord the medical attention he needs?!

But at that moment a bright light flared from Celestia's horn and she and Luna both vanished!

Fluttershy felt Twilight and Spike's grips on her both loosen—maybe they were as stunned by the Royal Sisters' sudden disappearance as she was—but she could only stay rooted to the spot, staring disbelievingly up at the portion of sky where the alicorns had just been circling.

That is until Skywishes's strained voice cut through her stupor.

"Fluttershy this might be our only chance to—will you cut it out?!"

Fluttershy's head snapped around in the direction of Skywishes's voice in time to see the coral-colored pegasus tug a blue cloak free from one of the saddlebags strapped under her armor. She threw said cloak over Mache Max, and gathered up the hem so it formed a makeshift bag. The origami parrot promptly began trying to batter his way out of his new prison, but with none of the expected screaming. Apparently he seemed to realize now was not the time or place to start screeching.

Keeping the bag shut tight, Skywishes looked back up at her fellow pegasus. "Fluttershy, this might be our only chance to sneak back to your cottage unnoticed. While everyone over there," she gestured toward the pony guards with her eyes. "is still focused on Discord."

At the mention of her former partner's name, Fluttershy automatically looked back down the path toward him. He was still struggling, but several ponies had gotten a hold of his legs and tail, and were stretching them out as far as possible while several more ponies used ropes to bind the extended limbs to the stretcher a second time. Somehow in the struggle, Discord's body had gotten twisted around so that while his top half was lying on its back, his lower half was now lying on its stomach. Fluttershy wondered if being twisted about like that was hurting him—

"Fluttershy!" Skywishes's voice jolted her like a slap. "The cottage! Remember Dinky!"

"Dinky?" Spike repeated, squinting at Skywishes. "Does she mean Derpy's kid?"

"Yes," breathed Fluttershy, her voice a trifle unsteady. Her concern for Discord had driven her worry about Dinky clear out of her head, but now her mind pulled up the image of the teenage unicorn—battered and bruised with her singed forelock—huddled under the blanket on the cot, trying to get some rest and regain what little strength she could—

"What happened to her?" Twilight asked, jerking Fluttershy out of the memory. "Do you know where she is?"

"Yes, she's at my cottage," said Fluttershy, trying to get her thoughts organized. Her throat had gone dry and she needed to swallow. "But we have to ... get back there quickly to make sure she's still safe..." She trailed off, feeling suddenly torn between her desire to stay near Discord, and her sense of responsibility regarding Dinky. Celestia had said Discord was to be taken to a hospital, but she hadn't said which hospital, so how was Fluttershy to know which one, if she didn't follow the guards? But how could she trail the guards without her wings if the pegasus ones should choose to fly with Discord? If she had still had her wings, this would not be an issue, but now...

"Good." Skywishes's take-charge tone startled Fluttershy out of her conflicted thoughts before the armored pegasus thrust the makeshift bag containing Mache Max at her. "If we fly, I can carry you, but you'll have to make sure Max doesn't get out of there and start pestering the rest of us." As the struggling bundle was placed in her hooves, a new idea suddenly popped into Fluttershy's head. Maybe she could go back to Dinky without having to completely abandon Discord after all!

Ignoring Skywishes's startled protest, Fluttershy opened the bag, and lifted out the paper parrot, who immediately stopped his flapping and nuzzled his two heads against her face. Fluttershy appreciated the affectionate gesture, but they were currently short of time, so she just gave him a few quick pats before pulling him away from her face so she could look at him.

"Max, I need you to follow Discord. I need you to find out where they take him, then come back and tell me. Can you do that for me, please?"

The parrot briefly cocked his two heads at her, then leaned forward and gently nibbled at her nose with both beaks before shooting up into the air. He seemed to rearrange his five-winged body into the shape of a paper airplane, and loop-de-looped toward where the guards were still wrestling Discord down. Once he got there, he continued to glide in circles high above the ponies, who fortunately seemed too focused on restraining the draconequus in front of them to think about scanning the sky above them.

"Well, I guess that's one way to keep him from pestering us," Skywishes muttered before turning back to Fluttershy. "Here. I'll still be carrying you."

Discord could feel his legs and tail being stretched out to the point where he felt the former would be pulled from their sockets, and the latter would be dragged out by the roots. Normally he would have responded by causing the limbs to magically stretch and stretch and stretch as if they were made of rubber, but that didn't seem to be working this time. All he could do was try to squirm away from whatever had ahold of his limbs.

Then he felt a sharp sting in the side of his neck before his body went numb and all his senses faded to black.

While the guards were still occupied with Discord, Twilight and Skywishes both took to the air, Twilight with Spike on her back, and Skywishes with Fluttershy on hers. Feeling that speed was currently more critical than stealth, they shot off in the direction of Fluttershy's cottage. As they flew, Fluttershy quickly filled Twilight and Spike in on how Skywishes, Dinky, and the two wrestlers Highflyer and Screwjob had all ended up at her place; how they had learned the truth about the murders of Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, as well as the attack on Derpy and her daughters; and how they split up in an attempt to gather Fluttershy's closest friends before those friends could possibly be replaced with changeling-doubles.

They managed to reach the cottage without incident, and landed behind a nearby tree, where they observed said cottage. The cottage was quiet and there seemed to be no signs of a struggle or forced entry ... but that could just as easily be a trap as it could be a sign that things were all right.

"Looks like one of us will have to go up there, knock, give our code word, and see if Dinky responds with her agreed upon code word," said Skywishes after they had scrutinized the house for several seconds. Turning to Twilight and Spike, she added, "Dinky doesn't have a code word to identify either of you by, so it looks like it's got to be either me or Fluttershy."

Fluttershy felt her heartbeat speed up, and fought to keep her breath steady. "I'll do it."

Her three companions stared at her, Twilight and Spike clearly shocked at their normally timid friend volunteering to take such a risk, and even Skywishes looked taken aback.

"You sure you want to do this?" she asked.

Fluttershy was absolutely sure she did not want to do it. Walking up there into a potential trap screamed out against all her self-preservation instincts. But she had to do it. She had to do it for Dinky's sake if there was the slightest chance that the young unicorn was still alive. She met Skywishes's dark green eyes with her turquoise ones. "It's like you said. We're the only two with code words Dinky knows about. And..." Her voice faltered, but she forced herself to continue. "...and if any changelings are lurking in there, they'd probably be more likely to recognize me in this camouflage than you in that armor."

Skywishes gave her a single acknowledging nod, and Twilight put a hoof on Fluttershy's shoulder. "We'll be right here, ready to jump in and help at the first sign of trouble."

"Thank you, Twilight," Fluttershy whispered, before stepping cautiously out from behind the tree. She flinched as her hoof crunched a patch of gravel on the path. In her current tense state, the noise seemed as loud as a cannon shot. She instinctively tried to flutter her wings, to lift herself off the ground so she could avoid any more patches of gravel ... only to get a reminder that her wings were now gone from her back as if they had never existed. She looked back up at her cottage, the path to it now seeming a hundred treacherous miles long. A soft whimper escaped her lips and a shiver ran down her spine. Her now-stumpy tail tried to tuck itself between her legs. As afraid as she might feel, she had to go up there. For Dinky's sake. Taking in a deep breath to steady herself, she began setting each hoof down carefully, testing the ground with each step before putting her weight on it. With every step she also found herself darting glances all around her, feeling exposed in a way she had never experienced before.

After what felt like a painful, hours-long journey but was probably only minutes, she finally reached the front door. Lifting a trembling hoof, she knocked, and softly called out, "Hello? It's Wasp."

"Whistler," she heard Dinky's voice croak. But to her astonishment, it didn't seem to be coming from behind the door! It sounded as if it had come from behind her! Fluttershy looked in that direction just as she heard the door in front of her open.

"Fluttershy, watch out!" Twilight shouted, just before a body slammed into Fluttershy, knocking her onto her back. Looking up, she found herself face to semitransparent face with a snarling changeling! She felt herself freeze in stunned terror, but the next moment a blast of magenta light struck the changeling, knocking it away from her. She crab-walked in an attempt to put more distance between herself and the downed changeling, but a turquoise aura suddenly encased her back legs and began dragging her toward the open cottage door. She shrieked and grabbed at the edge of the open door. When it slammed shut, she was sandwiched between it and the door frame, the former pressing into her chest and the latter digging into her spine. She cried out in pain as the changeling or changelings behind the door jerked her viciously back and forth, trying to loosen her hold on the door.

Then Twilight's magenta magic surrounded her and began trying to pull her back outside. A moment later Skywishes was there as well, grabbing Fluttershy's hooves in her own and hauling on them. Fluttershy saw the changeling who had first attacked her pushing itself to its feet behind Skywishes. But before it could go after the armored pegasus, Spike barreled forward, ramming the changeling in the chest. Fluttershy had a brief glimpse of him clamping his mouth over the changeling's shoulder, with green and orange sparks flashing from the corners of his mouth. Then the fighting dragon and changeling tumbled out of her line of sight and she was too busy trying to kick free of the magic imprisoning her back legs.

For several terrible moments they struggled and Fluttershy felt as if her body was going to be ripped in half, but then she, Twilight and Skywishes won the tug of war! Skywishes stumbled backward and landed on her back as Fluttershy shot forward. They lost hold of each other's hooves and Fluttershy sailed over her fence to tumble into the mud below. Briefly stunned, she lay there while the sounds of fighting raged above her. Then there was movement to her left and she flinched.

"Whistler," a mound of earth croaked, before one end of it lifted, revealing itself to be Dinky, bundled in the torn camouflage Skywishes had left at the cottage. She looked awful. When Fluttershy had last seen her, most of her forelock had been burned away but now all her blonde mane seemed to have been hacked off save for a few jagged tufts here and there. Its absence made the combination of sickly pallor and nasty bruises showing through her lilac coat all the more prominent.

Fluttershy wondered how on earth Dinky had ended up outside in this state, but there was no time to question her now. Especially not when she had just given the code word confirming her identity.

"Wasp," Fluttershy whispered to the teenager before looking back up to where Twilight, Spike, and Skywishes were still struggling with the changelings.

"Down here!" she called up to them. "Everyone, Dinky's down here! She's outside with us!"

"We're coming! Hang on!" Twilight shouted. This was followed by a lightning-like flash, and a blast of magenta magic that radiated out from the overhang above Fluttershy. Looking up, she thought she saw the faintly shimmering outlines of semitransparent changelings tumbling through the air. While the changelings were still trying to right themselves, Fluttershy saw Skywishes leap down from the overhang. The armored pegasus used her wings to slow her fall and landed just a few feet from Fluttershy. Spike was straddling Skywishes's withers and his arms were wrapped around her helmeted head. A moment later Twilight landed next to them as well. Above them, Fluttershy saw the faintly gleaming outlines of semitransparent changelings. But as these changelings swooped down on them, Spike leaned forward and spat a blast of flames that umbrellaed out over him and the four ponies, forcing the changelings to fly back out of his range in the process.

"Everyone, grab onto me!" Twilight ordered, and as Fluttershy squeezed her eyes shut against the fire's blinding light, she grabbed Dinky's foreleg in one hoof, and one of Twilight's wing joints in the other.

Behind the shield of fire, Twilight's horn flashed with brilliant light as she teleported herself, Spike, and her three fellow ponies away from the scene.

As Discord slowly came to, he tried to open his eyes but his eyelids felt as if they weighed a ton. He didn't seem able to move anything else either for that matter. In theory this should be frightening, but somehow his brain couldn't seem to muster up the energy to worry. Am I ... drugged? He thought he heard voices around him and a faint beeping sound but was unable to do more than dully listen to them.

"What's his condition?" said a male voice he didn't recognize.

"He seems to be stabilizing," said a second, apprehensive, male voice that he felt he might have heard somewhere before but couldn't quite place. "But I've never had the opportunity to examine a draconequus before, let alone operate on one, so I have to rely on a lot of guesswork. I mean, just look at this wound on his head. It not only split his skull nearly in half but it was backed by magic. If he'd been one of us, an injury like this would have been instantly fatal."

"Then how's he still alive if that head is about as close to pony-like as he seems to get biologically?"

"As near as I can tell, when that wound was inflicted, his chaotic magic tried to keep him alive by going into overdrive, and spilling over onto everything around him. But again, I've never had to treat a draconequus before, so I don't know what's usual for them. I'm just used to patching up ponies." There was a pause, then he added, "Maybe we'd be better off calling in a vet. At least they'd know more about working with all these different animal parts."

Discord was scandalized. Granted he knew his mismatched appearance often unsettled ponies, and it always gave him a thrill of pleasure when it did, but that did not regulate him to the position of merely some oddball creature to be gaped at! He was the Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony for crying out loud! A little more respect was in order!

He was just about to try and put on a display to remind these ponies just who they were dealing with when the second one, the one who seemed to be in charge, spoke up again.

"But on second thought, none of the vets I know have ever worked with animals packed with the kind of magic he has. If it weren't for those gold cuffs inhibiting his power, he'd probably be doing to this place what he did to Foal Mountain."

"Why, what happened to Foal Mountain?"

"Didn't you hear? That's where they caught him. Apparently he was doing that routine he's been doing all over Equestria for the past year, turning that mountain chaotic from the inside out, before the Royal Sisters flew in and brought him back out burned, cuffed, unconscious, and with his head busted open." There was another pause before he continued. "And I shudder to think what sort of fight he was putting up if they had to resort to this sort of attack to stop him."

It wasn't them who did this, you idiot! Discord shouted inside his head, but all that came out of his mouth was a slurred "Washn't dem did dis iddit..."

"Shoot, the sedative is wearing off," cried the second pony. "Get me more horse tranquilizer! See what I mean about guess work? His system keeps burning through everything at different rates than we calculated for his size and weight."

Discord thought he might have felt something pierce the side of his neck, but he couldn't be sure, as his brain suddenly seemed to go all sluggish.

"Frankly, I don't see why you're even going to all the trouble to keep this lousy murderer alive," he thought he heard the first pony mutter as he drifted into unconsciousness.

"I'm doing it on Princess Celestia's orders. Maybe she's hoping that if we keep him alive we can force him to tell us how to successfully turn Derpy right-side out again. Or at least tell us what he did with her missing younger daughter."

Fluttershy suddenly found herself surrounded by leaves, and wondered where Twilight had taken them.

But before she could ask, she heard the alicorn whisper-shout, "Everypony stay as still as you can while I cast an invisibility spell!" There was a bright flash of light, and when Fluttershy looked down at her body, she saw only leaves. She raised a hoof in front of her face, and the air in front of her shimmered and wavered oddly.

"Stay still!" Twilight's voice hissed next to her. "The more you move, the faster the spell weakens and wears off!"

Fluttershy obediently froze, but then an angry shout behind her forced her to whirl around.

"Blast! We almost had them!"

Looking in the direction of the voice, she found herself looking down from the leafy top of her cottage, while the faint outlines of semitransparent changelings darted about below. As a couple of the changelings looked up in her direction, she couldn't keep from instinctively huddling down in the leaves, in spite of Twilight's warning to stay still. While she didn't make a sound outwardly, inwardly she was screaming her head off, wondering what on earth had prompted Twilight to teleport them here instead of far, far away.

"Well, it's not a total loss," said another changeling. "At least we now know old Skew-eyes's daughter is with Twilight and Fluttershy, and Twilight's pet dragon."

Fluttershy thought she heard Spike make a soft disgruntled rumble next to her.

"Fat lot of good that does us," snapped the first changeling. "They're probably on the other side of Equestria by now!"

"Even if they are, they can't stay there forever," the second one pointed out. "More likely they went to a place they know and feel safe at. And considering how we've been observing them for the past decade..." The second changeling trailed off, but the first one seemed to brighten at these words.

"Ah, right. We can put all the other changelings on alert. Have them watching every place we know Twilight and her buddies go. Their homes, their friends' houses, their families' houses, the library—"

"So many libraries!"

"—the apple farm, the boutique—"

"And who says we changelings even have to do all the watching ourselves? We can leak word to some of the real ponies that the princess and her friends have vanished and to be on the alert for any sign of their whereabouts. We can even imply that Discord is behind the disappearances, which will make them even more desperate to find those poor, missing ponies, and give us even higher emotions to feed on."

"Heh heh, as if we need any more," the first changeling chuckled. Fluttershy could practically hear it licking its lips. "It's like an all-you-can-eat-buffet already." Then its good mood seemed to fade. "Which is probably why we didn't sense the little unicorn when we first got here. All the emotions pouring out of Ponyville blocked hers."

The second one shrugged. "Small price to pay for all the power we've been absorbing. Come on, let's get back to the Queen, tell her what's going on, and then get a lockdown on all Twilight's potential hiding places."

The second changeling started to fly forward, but the first one stayed where it was. "Hey, don't you think one of us should stay here, just in case those ponies come back?"

"I don't think they'll be coming back, knowing we're here. But we can always put someone here later. We'll flush those ponies out into the open soon enough."

And with that, the changelings flew off. For several moments there was silence, as the four ponies and the dragon watched and waited to make sure the changelings really were gone. Then there was a brief flash of magenta light, and Twilight lifted the invisibility spell so they could all look at each other.

"This is bad." said Spike.

"This is very bad," Twilight concurred. "This is really really bad." Her voice was slowly but surely getting higher and more agitated. "They might have left but they'll be back soon! What do we do?! You heard them! They know every place we've been in the past ten years! We have no place to go! No place to hide! No place they don't know about!"

"Oh, yes, you do." Skywishes's flat voice was such a contrast with Twilight's panicked one, that it drew everyone's attention to her. She wasn't looking at any of them, but was instead looking out into the distance, as if she were completely unaffected by the current situation. "There's one place you haven't been to in the past ten years."

She turned back to face them. "My TreeHAB."